Democratic nominee for state Corporation Commission signs Open Government Pledge

A Native American environmental activist has pledged that the Oklahoma Corporation Commission will comply with the letter and spirit of the state’s open government laws if she is elected to the three-person board.

In signing FOI Oklahoma’s Open Government Pledge for statewide candidates, Ashley McCrayalso promised “to support at every opportunity” the state’s public policy that “the people are vested with the inherent right to know and be fully informed about their government so that they can efficiently and intelligently exercise their inherent political power.”

McCray won the recent Democratic primary runoff with 65 percent of the votes, according to the State Election Board’s official results.

In the Nov. 6 general election, McCray faces Bob Anthony, the longest-serving member of the Corporation Commission.

Commissioners are elected to staggered six-year terms. They exercise judicial, legislative and administrative authority.The commission regulates Oklahoma’s oil and gas industries, including “underground injection of water and chemicals, underground disposal of certain oil and gas waste fluids and remediation of soil and groundwater pollution caused by leaking petroleum products storage tanks.”

It also regulates some public utilities; aspects of motor carrier, rail and pipeline transportation; most taxis, limousine and for-hire buses; towing companies performing nonconsensual tows; pipeline transportation; private water companies; and gas pumps at retail filling stations.

A resident of Norman, McCray is from the Oglala Lakota nation and is an enrolled member of the Absentee Shawnee Tribe of Oklahoma. She participated in the successful campaign for Norman to commit to developing a 100 percent renewable energy plan by 2035.

McCray also “is part of a watchdog collective that monitors extractive projects, advocates on behalf of Oklahomans impacted by eminent domain, advocates for local governments to protect constituents from eminent domain and environmental degradation, and educates the public about the impacts of excessive resource extraction on our health, economy, and environment,” according to her campaign website.

She participated in the Standing Rock demonstration against the Dakota Access Pipeline. The Oklahoma Sierra Club’s Red Earth Group recognized her as its 2017 Distinguished Activist.

FOI Oklahoma invites all candidates for state, local and legislative seats to sign the pledge on FOI Oklahoma’s website, where a list of signers also can be found.

Since FOI Oklahoma began the pledge in 2008, 186 candidates have signed — with 95, or 51 percent —being elected at least once. FOI Oklahoma began the Open Government Pledge as part of a national effort to spur public commitments to government transparency from candidates for president down to city council contests.

Joey Senat, Ph.D.
Associate Professor
OSU School of Media & Strategic Communications
Mass Communication Law in Oklahoma

The opinions expressed in this blog are those of the commentators and do not necessarily represent the position of FOI Oklahoma Inc., its staff, its board of directors or the commentator’s employer. Differing interpretations of open government law and policy are welcome.